“Lost” creator J. J. Abrams takes the reigns for Cruise’s third outing as bullet-dodging IMF (Impossible Mission Force) agent Ethan Hunt. After retiring from field operations to start a family with his new fiancé (Monaghan) Hunt is lured back into action when a fellow agent (Russell) is taken hostage after a botched mission.

Teaming up with old mate Luther (Rhames), daredevil pilot Declan (Meyers) and new recruit Zhen (Q) Hunt engineers a typically bonkers operation to rescue his colleague but things don’t go quite to plan. Before you know it our man is involved in a cross-continental race against time to save the world from a nuclear meltdown, and his missus from a very grizzly end at the hands of bloodthirsty megalomaniac Owen Davian (Hoffman).

“It’s complicated” announces FBI agent Crudup at the end of MI3 but, in fact, the opposite is true of this latest high-octane sequel – if anything it’s just too basic.

Abrams has created one of the most action-packed blockbusters ever, jumping from one death-defying scene to another without pause for breath. Highlights include a stunning helicopter chase through a wind turbine field, an explosive shoot-out on Washington Bridge and a slickly choreographed snatch-and-grab mission in Vatican City.

But Rhames sums the situation up well when he says “There’s a point when thinking becomes stupid” and when Cruise starts leaping between Shanghai skyscrapers in yet another gravity-defying stunt sequence you suspect we may have hit that point.

The main strength of the first MI film was the twisting Hitchcockian script, and although Abrams gives us an interesting look at Hunt’s home life this new plot (something ridiculous about a “Rabbit’s Foot”) takes a back seat to all the guns, explosions and gadgetry.

Anyone remember the Friends episode where Alec Baldwin cameos as the most irritatingly over-enthusiastic man in the world, a character who worships the chickpea and describes the New England Expressway as a “concrete miracle”?

Well think of him having sex, on speed, while bungee-jumping, and you will get a vague idea of what Tom Cruise is like throughout the special features on this 2-Disc collector’s edition.

As well as the zealous talk-track, there are raft of behind-the-scenes featurette and interviews that cover every possible angle in the filmmaking process (just be prepared for a raft of nauseating back-slapping moments that culminates in a cheesy montage of Cruise’s greatest movie moments).

Highlights include a detailed break-down of some of the big-budget set-pieces that show just how deeply involved in the action Cruise still gets, and the “Mission Metamorphosis” featurette, in which designer Syd Mead explains how the mask-making machine that makes Tom Cruise look like Philip Seymour Hoffman works.

Price when reviewed:

For pure popcorn entertainment MI3 delivers on all levels. Hoffman oozes menaces in his first mainstream villain role, and Fishburne gets some tasty lines like “Don’t interrupt me when I’m asking rhetorical questions!” as Hunt’s straight-talking IMF leader. The only disappointment is Kanye West’s abysmal theme tune which makes Limp Bizkit’s 2000 effort look like Beethoven.

Rating: 12A
Staring: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Monaghan, Billy Crudup, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Simon Pegg, Keri Russell, Maggie Q
Directed by: J. J. Abrams
Extras: Audio commentary from director J. J. Abrams and star/producer Tom Cruise, Deleted scenes, 'The Making Of The Mission' featurette (27 mins), 'Inside The IMF' featurette (21 mins), 'Visualising The Mission' featurette (10 mins), 'Mission Metamorphosis' featurette (8 mins), 'Inside The Action' featurette (24 mins), 'Scoring The Mission' featurette (5 mins), 'Launching The Mission' featurette (14 mins), Tribute montages, Tom Cruise and J.J. Abrams answer fans' questions! (8 mins), Photo gallery, Trailers, Easter Eggs (hidden features)

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